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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

180 The Tian Luo Ar

 Lu Huasheng's expression was vacant. He had no idea what was going on amid all the confusion.

Meng Qi's acquaintance, Luo Shengyi, twitched his mouth. He felt that the "calm and collected" impression he had tried so hard to build was destroyed. Was this chap just putting on an act all this time?

Ruan Yushu gave a deep "Oh", which made Meng Qi's hair stand on end. He thought she must have started thinking in a negative way, so he turned his attention towards the matter at hand. Meng Qi's mid-brow was pulsating, and he projected his will outwards, in turn, disrupting Lu Huasheng's senses to negatively impact his feelings.

"Who has come to see you and the emissary, and which side did they each represent?" Meng Qi's voice turned calm and steady. He was overpowering with his dictation and full of confidence.

Lu Huasheng suddenly remembered the Skyscraping Devil-like enemy he had seen before and fright welled up from within. It was as though the person standing before him was the person he was the most afraid of, his master!

If he were in full health, then based on his strength and level, the Transformation Strategy would hardly affect him. But now his acupoints had been sealed and his genuine Qi blocked, so he couldn't even protect his body, let alone block out any disturbances. Not to mention the scar left by Meng Qi's blade. He simply had no control.

He answered absentmindedly, "'The Heaven Sword' Song Ming was here and requested the terms of our peace negotiations. He never came back after we told him; Ghost King was here to assist the seventh prince with the negotiations. He was willing to pay a price for our retreat, but we were miles apart with the deal, our negotiations were still ongoing; 'The Nine-fingered Super Arrester' Nie Wen was here too, also representing the terms for the Crown Prince, he also gave his offer. But the negotiations suddenly halted without explanation; Finally, there was the 'Misty Could Blade' Leng Mo, who was here to represent the Third Prince for similar reasons to the seventh prince."

Luo Shengyi placed his hands on his chest feeling somewhat embarrassed and said, "If the price it takes for the western invaders to retreat is reasonable, then the Third Prince is willing to negotiate to buy some time. I, however, would try my best to either stop or botch the negotiations."

Just as Meng Qi was about to further interrogate, Lu Huasheng added, "The 'West Conquering General' Xu Jin also came to ask about the bottom line of our terms."

"The West Conquering General?"

"Xu Jin?"

Meng Qi and Luo Shengyi both opened their mouths and asked in unison. They both knew that this was a man of great importance, his titles included the vice-chairman of the Privy Council, General of the Imperial Guards responsible for the safety of the capital. He was the crème de la crème of the skilled masters, more importantly, he could seal off the capital and the imperial palace in moments of need. He represented the army's power, therefore a key towards snatching the throne.

Like the Right Chief Minister Wang Derang, who was only loyal to the unconscious emperor, he was not convinced by the princes' solicitation.

"Why would he get involved in the peace negotiations?" Luo Shengyi was planning to aid the Third Prince in seizing the throne, and he was far more familiar with the powers of the capital than Meng Qi, "Could it be that he was already working for one of the princes?"

Meng Qi's voice turned more fierce, "Tell me, who was he representing? And when did he find you?"

Lu Huasheng agonized for a bit, but still decided to answer honestly, "He just said he was here on his own accord. He entered the Yunyan Mansion not long after the Nine-fingered Super Arrester had left, disguised as an itinerant peddler."

Contrary to common belief, midnight was not the best time for secret activities like peace negotiations, for very few people would be on the streets. Any strangers coming in and out were easily exposed. By contrast, it was much harder to identify any outsiders entering the Yunyan Mansion in the middle of the day. The Nine-fingered Super Arrester and the West Conquering General shared this thought and opted to enter the Yunyan Mansion during the day. Since Luo Shengyi had kept a close eye on the Nine-fingered Super Arrester, he wasn't able to escape Luo Shegyi's eyes. The West Conquering General, however, had found Lu Huasheng without anyone noticing.

"Representing himself? What? Does he want the throne for himself then...?" Meng Qi asked, absorbed in thought. "Are you lot trying to use the peace negotiations to buy some time and solve the internal troubles? And once the Jiang and other tribes are taken care of, you would go south again?"

"That is true." Lu Huasheng answered honestly, "The Great Khan's ambitions are great. He wants to rule the whole world. Giving away a piece of land here and there is nothing to him."

After he asked Yin Shi about the Great Khan and others, Meng Qi pushed out his Evil Ordeal Blade, still in its case and stabbed Lu Huashen in the chest, only to see him sputter his Chi-energy as his heart shattered from the power.

"Things are perhaps more complicated than we had originally thought." Luo Shengyi added, as if he was more clear on things now.

Meng Qi nodded solemnly in agreement, "Perhaps we've neglected to question whether the old emperor is really unconscious. Maybe he was in a coma initially, but now he has woken up and decided to just observe the climate, biding his time..."

If the emperor had indeed come to his senses, he would definitely not trust Lu Guan if he saw him colluding with the four princes. Fortunately, Lu Guan had chosen a neutral stance, proving his loyalty to the throne!

However, if the emperor wanted to negotiate a peace deal, then Lu Guan would again be proven untrustworthy.

...

An emperor who had lost the control of the imperial court was as good as dead!

Meng Qi took a step forward and added, "The West Conquering General was probably representing the old emperor in making contact with the western invaders for brokering a peace deal. We must first confirm the old emperor's condition and see if he really is in a coma or if he's merely pretending!"

If he was truly intent on negotiating peace, then he would have been better off unconscious! There were no restrictions on who the emperor must be in the task description anyway. As for "regaining trust", this could be easily explained as well. The princes had always trusted Lu Guan, and even tried to convince him to join, but disappointingly, he had been adamant on taking a neutral stance.

At the end of the day, the key to fending off the western invaders was General Lu lending his services to one party or the other!

"The imperial palace is full of skilled masters, not to mention the Right Chief Minister being at the helm. Even a Great Grandmaster would be hard-pushed to find any information," Luo Shengyi was muttering. "The West Conquering General himself would rival the Ghost King as it pertains to strength and skill level. We might have a chance to take him down if the three of us join forces, but he now stays mostly in the military camp surrounded by a bevy of Top Class Masters. It'll be nearly impossible for us to get near him. If we were to get trapped in the camp, the chances of us getting out alive are slim to none."

In a world like this, where martial arts was prevalent, the military forces had no shortage of skilled masters. Even average soldiers would be a handful to deal with. Furthermore, Meng Qi and Luo Shengyi weren't the type of masters who could battle a thousand opponents alone. Besides, ancient wisdom dictated that even an elephant could be taken down by ants if the numbers were great enough. So, if a Great Grandmaster were caught in the military camp, where he was surrounded by thousands of soldiers with arrows, he too would be in the same dire situation. Perhaps he could manage to come out alive, but just barely.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, I'll go back and see what Lu Guan has to say. He might have already professed his attitude and stance to the Right Chief Minister and seen the emperor." Although Meng Qi thought this scenario was highly unlikely, he still had to try. At least for now, even if the emperor was not in a coma, he was leaning towards brokering a peace deal. And calling Lu Guan to the capital was only a back up plan. The emperor would not trust Lu Guan enough to share this kind of secret with him.

Oftentimes, abominable consequences are caused by assumptions. He had to find out the truth.

Luo Shengyi nodded gently in agreement, "Good point, I'll remind the Third Prince as well."

He revealed his true thoughts to show his integrity.

"It's fine, no problem." Meng Qi didn't mind Luo's honesty at all. The Third Prince had been one of the candidates he was considering as well.

When Meng Qi searched Lu Huasheng's body, he found only healing and supplementary elixirs, nothing of true value.

Meng Qi split these objects between Luo Shengyi and Ruan Yushu, keeping nothing for himself. After all he had gotten the Demon School script "Yin-absorbing Secret Sutra", which Lu Huasheng had used for his own cultivation.

After hurling Lu Huasheng's body into the river, the three of them split up and went their separate ways.

Both Meng Qi and Lu Huasheng were adept in the Lightness Skill. Where one was fast and dynamic like the wind; the other was elegant and graceful like an immortal floating amongst the clouds. In the darkness of the night, it looked like the Noctivagating God and an angel were moonlighting together.

After a while, they arrived at the Courier Hostel. Suddenly a long and deep sigh entered their ears, reverberating in their minds.

Meng Qi stopped dead in his step and unsheathed both his blade and his sword, looking at the tree just in front of them. He stood in front of Ruan Yushu to shield her from the approaching opponent. From the looks of it, the opponent's strength was frightening!

From the dark shadows of the large tree appeared a young girl dressed in white yarn robes. The beauty that was in front of them made his heart throb. Even without revealing an inch of skin, her beauty still warmed the cockles. He wanted to stare but was afraid at the same time.

She had on a gauze veil, but her delicate face was still visible. Her splendid charm and posture showed maturity.

Meng Qi managed to squeeze out, with clenched teeth, the words, "Devil Empress!"

"Do I really warrant your using your sword?" The Devil Empress' voice was slightly raspy, very attractive.

The night breeze was chilling to the bone, but the Devil Empress slowly paced forward as if she were the pivotal center of heaven and earth!

This was a frightening feeling!

Meng Qi did not have time to think why she was here at this instant, or why she had blocked them. As their Qi engaged, the Devil Empress' Qi was clearly suppressing Meng Qi's, which meant that if he lost concentration for just an instant, he'd lose his battle-will and suffer an overwhelming defeat.

His spirit flowed like water onto both his sword and blade, which were like extensions of his body. Indistinctly, he felt strands of silk floating about in the surrounding air.

Luo Shengyi's reminder crossed his mind, so Meng Qi no longer held anything back. He activated the fully consummated 5th level of his Golden Bell Shield, and the dark gold glow began flowing through his skin like the statues of Luohan and Vajra in a Buddhist temple. It blocked the thread-like poisonous air from entering his body. All the poisonous air or Yin Qi was completely ablated by the majestic Yang Qi of Buddhism.

The Devil Empress was somewhat surprised by Meng Qi's development. She had never expected that the usually cold and otherworldly swordsman Xiao Meng could become so aggressive, so much like a man of Buddhism!

The Devil Empress' moment of surprise had interrupted her increasing momentum. Meng Qi took advantage of this. Focusing his will, he wielded his Evil Ordeal blade for an eruptive attack!

The exact opportunity I was looking for!

There was no need to worry about the stylistic factor in moments like these. Once dead, there wouldn't be any style left!

Meng Qi had focused all his Energy, Qi, Spirit and Will into this one blade attack. Also integrated into the attack was the modicum of the essence of the Heaven Blade, "Peace Quietude Split", which he had just learned. The strength of his blade was more powerful than in the past.

The Peace Quietude Split was so named because the world could be complicated, full of love, and also of course hate, fear and voracity, like the seductive sounds of the Skyscraping Devil. Peace could not exist.

Suddenly, the sound of a zither entered their ears. However, the tune was messy and loud, as if crying out in frustration because of the pain and exhaustion of life, or the pressure of ever-increasing housing prices, or the lack of food and clothing, sounding as though trouble was at every turn. The tune got on their nerves and made them on edge, basically the opposite of peace and quietude.

The sound of the zither and Meng Qi's "Peace Quietude Split" coincided seamlessly, making his blade force reach another level. And in turn, his Energy, Qi, Spirit and Will reached an unprecedented peak.

His blade light was like the sun's reflection on the water, unpredictable and always glistening, exhibiting the essence of the way of the blade. It brought before the Devil Empress every facet of life, be it age, sickness, death, love, or hate!

Meng Qi's spirit was immersed in the secular world, and the transformations of his bladesmanship were a reflection of his soul, lucid and formless, encompassing the Protective Upstanding Qi of the Devil Empress, then suddenly, striking with force!

Meng Qi pulled off his most powerful attack since learning the "Peace Quietude Split"!

Uncertainty and confusion appeared in the Devil Empress' eyes. She was revisiting the days when she was still young; when the Demon Venerable had disappeared and the Demon School had closed, and she couldn't do anything to stop the disciples going their separate ways. Though she had managed to achieve some success in harnessing the "Tian Luo Art", she had still been burdened with the trifles of life. Not to mention the up rise of the thieves and riff raff, rendering her unable to fulfil her hopes.

Meng Qi suddenly discovered a slight gap in the Devil Empress' Protective Upstanding Qi. The blade light of the Evil Ordeal cut straight through.

However, the speed of the "Evil Ordeal's" blade light seemed to slow down like it was being wrapped in layers of a net of some sort, adding to it a thousand pounds of pressure.

Thunderbolt Pythons suddenly erupted from the blade and shredded the Yin Qi net, but even so, the Devil Empress' Protective Upstanding Qi could not be penetrated, even just inches away from her skin!

At this moment, she came to her senses and grabbed the blade with her delicate hand, she was neither angry nor shaken. Calmly she praised,

"Great Bladesmanship."

A strand of black hair fell, and the cut was tarred.